Ja'ir Returns to School and Friends after Versatile Team in Cincinnati Children’s Hybrid Operating Room Restores His Breathing
Frequent nose bleeds. Shortness of breath. Weight loss. Janay Gray knew something was wrong with her son, Ja'ir.
It was the fall of 2021 when the seventh grader developed a persistent respiratory illness. Doctors in their hometown of Indianapolis treated Ja’ir for sinus and ear infections, as well as pneumonia.
But when it didn't go away and symptoms worsened, Janay took her son to a nearby emergency department where doctors discovered that Ja’ir’s kidneys were beginning to fail.
“Ja’ir was a typical kid and seemed healthy to me until one day he got an ear infection that wouldn't go away,” Janay said.
Diagnosis of Rare Disease, ‘Scary time’ for Family
Blood samples indicated possible abnormalities and a follow-up X-ray and CT (computed tomography) scan revealed granulomas (small areas of inflammation) in his lungs. Doctors diagnosed Ja’ir with a rare autoimmune disease called granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), which most commonly affects the sinuses, lungs and kidneys.
“It was a scary time for our family,” said Janay.
Formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis, GPA is a type of vasculitis. This group of disorders causes inflammation of small blood vessels. As the blood vessels narrow, tissues and organs in the body don't get enough blood-rich oxygen.
In Indianapolis, Ja'ir received treatments that included aggressive immunosuppressive drugs and corticosteroids. He seemed to have a positive response to these therapies. After a month-long stay at the hospital, he returned home where he continued with school homebound instruction due to his weakened immune system.
Referral to Cincinnati Children’s for Multidisciplinary Procedure
By February 2022, Ja’ir’s shortness of breath had gotten worse. He was now winded walking from one end of his house to the other.